Last month, Roll Call ventured into the office of Republican Congressman Donald Young, who represents Alaska’s at-large congressional district. It’s filled with hunting trophies, especially a very large bear that sits in the lobby. He claims to have shot and killed every animal that’s hung along the walls, expect for the Walrus–he’s not allowed to shoot them.
The congressman noted that he gets more visitors to his office due to the bear, for which he has two stories. One is when he encountered the beast, yanked him by the tail, disemboweled him when the bear ran the other way, and that’s how he killed him.
“That’s for the kids,” he says smiling.
In reality, there was less of a Davy Crockett element to it.
“There were seven of them in a bunch. They came up on the bank, laid down in the sunshine. And uh, I shot him. And everybody says ‘well, that’s not very sporty.’ And I said, I had a little rifle–and that’s a big bear,” Young said.
Now, most congressional offices are small, but Young occupies the biggest one on the Hill, which houses a massive map of his home state and various pieces of art from indigenous peoples of Alaska, including a massive 900-pound Totem pole from the late Sen. Ted Stevens’ office, which Young took when Stevens was defeated in 2008.
Young has been in Congress since 1973, winning a special election to fill the seat left by incumbent Democratic Rep. Nick Begich, father of the former Alaskan Senator Mark Begich, who disappeared while flying from Anchorage to Juneau. Neither the plane, nor anyone on board, was found, but it’s accepted that they tragically perished in a crash. The congressman said he and Begich were friends, and that he shouldn’t have been flying on the day he vanished.
Representative Young also showed Roll Call his collection of photos with past presidents. He has eight of them, though he tries to keep the one he took with Jimmy Carter.
"He was the most incompetent of all presidents," said Young. “Nice guy, don’t get me wrong–he just didn't know what the hell he was doing."
I’m sure many people agree with that view. At the same time, Young admitted that what are the chances of someone like himself, a former riverboat captain in his previous career, being elected to Congress, while adding that it’s been “a very interesting ride.”